The guitar has been very good to Eric Johnson, earning him international renown as a player, composer, recording artist and live entertainer as well as an ever-growing audience of admirers. And Eric Johnson has been very good to the guitar, spotlighting its myriad melodic, sonic and lyrical splendors, paying homage to its heroes and innovators, collaborating and playing with many of its finest contemporary talents, and fostering its continuing vibrancy as a primarily instrumental genre in popular music.
“He's an extraordinary guitar player accessible to ordinary music fans,” notes the Memphis Commercial Appeal. That’s because Eric Johnson plays music and not just the guitar. He is also a gifted player of the piano (his first instrument) as well as songwriter, singer and song interpreter. Or more succinctly, Eric Johnson is a diverse, versatile and fully realized musical creator who plays guitar like no one else.
The pivotal event in Johnson's rise to becoming, as Guitar Player says, “one of the most respected guitarists on the planet,' was his million-selling, now-classic 1990 album Ah Via Musicom (which loosely translates as 'communicating through music'). It was his second release, following Tones, his 1986 major label debut.
Musicom yielded three Top 10 singles – 'Cliffs of Dover,' which has become Johnson's signature song and won a Best Rock Instrumental Grammy, and 'Trademark' and 'Righteous.' It made him the first artist to ever score three Top 10 instrumentals. Now, 28 years later, he revisits that landmark recording with a 2018 tour on which he will play the album – hailed as a 'masterwork' in Amazon.com's review – in its entirety.
'It'll be cool to revisit with [bassist] Kyle Brock and [drummer] Tommy Taylor' – who backed Johnson on his nearly two years of steady touring after the album came out. 'A lot of acts are playing their full albums live, and after it was suggested I do it, we kind of polled my fan base and got a wonderful response to it,' says Johnson.